I’m finally posting a few stories that were in the cue. We’ll start with France. This was huge. Last Saturday, the night before International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, France became the first country in the world to no longer classify trans identities as a mental illness. Advocates in France have been putting the pressure on for awhile now to have this changed, and a handful of public figures also called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to change their classification. The full article was translated, and I’m posting it below.

Transsexualism will no longer be classified in France as a mental illness, a government decision hailed Saturday as “historic” by the associations concerned, on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia.

The Minister of Health, Roselyne Bachelot, has appealed “in recent days” to the High Authority of Health in order to make a decree that transsexualism be removed from the category of psychiatric disorders, a spokesman for the department stated.

Until now, transsexuals benefited from a fee waiver for their medical care by being classified under ALD23 (affection de longue durée 23 – long term condition 23) for “recurring or persistent disorders”.

For the Department of Health, it is a “strong signal sent to the whole community”, since transsexuals felt that being included under the ALD23 was stigmatizing.

This classification, arising from that of the World Health Organization (WHO), was also linked to the fact that transsexualism appeared on the list of pathologies identified in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to which the medical profession refers, as was the case for homosexuality a few years ago.

In a forum published in Le Monde (newspaper) dated Sunday-Monday, numerous personalities including first secretary of the Socialist Party Martine Aubry, the communist Marie-George Buffet, Green (party member) Daniel Cohn-Bendit and even Nobel Prize winners such as Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (medicine) and Elfriede Jelinek (literature), asked the WHO “to no longer consider transsexuals as being affected by a mental disorder”.

It is because the WHO decided on the 17th of May 1990 to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, that this date has been retained for the International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia, celebrated Sunday, starting Saturday in many places.

It is therefore symbolic that France chose this time and date to be “the first country in the world” to “remove transgender identity from the list of mental diseases”, commented the IDAHO Committee. This “historic decision” is also “an explosion of hope for all trans persons around the world”, according to Joël Bedos, secretary-general of the IDAHO Committee.

The HES (Association for Homosexuality and Socialism) also “hailed” this announcement which is in response to “demands that the LGBT community have been making for a long time in France.” For HES, it is time, at present, to go beyond the symbolic and take concrete actions to fight against the violence and discrimination facing trans persons.

Because beyond “this measure for declassification, there is still much to be done before transsexuals (…) are recognized as full-fledged citizens”, insisted the coordinator of the group Inter-LGBT.

Two days later, on Monday May 19th in the United States, activists were both inside and outside of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual convention in San Francisco, presenting to attendees (by Dr. Kelley Winters), and protesting outside, calling for the reform of gender identity related diagnoses.

Judy Berman on Salon.com reported:

“We got homosexuality out of the DSM because of protests at the APA,” [Ehrensaft] told Psychiatric Times. “Now it’s time to do the same with GID.” She also noted that a movement within the association is moving toward a “more balanced” Task Force. With psychologists and activists working together to reform the APA’s position on gender identity, it may be only a matter of time before we stop labeling perfectly sane transpeople mentally ill. Imagine that!

Ruby Cymrot-Wu, a local Bay Area LGBTQ Jewish organizer protested outside the APA convention:

Last Monday, I participated in a protest as part of the larger fight for liberation from institutional gender oppression. I was honored to be part of something so powerful. We called for the APA to recognize gender identity and expression as natural human variation, not as disease or mental illness to be systematically diagnosed. Activists from all over the country, including several queer, genderqueer, and trans-identified health care professionals, took up the megaphone in a collective cry for justice from institutional discrimination. In a time when the debate about access to services for LGBTQ people is often only in terms of how it relates to marriage rights, the GID rally was truly refreshing and empowering for me. Access to high-quality, holistic health care is a must. I hope my work as an activist and advocate for LGBTQ people in the Jewish community creates room for dialogue about making comprehensive change, like health care reform, rather than continuing to pour resources and energy into efforts that secure rights for only some of us.